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Flagstaff Working to Strengthen Business

In the past few years, the City of Flagstaff has captured nearly $300,000 for local business expansion. The most recent grant has been secured for Joy Cone, a Flagstaff-based ice cream cone manufacturer. The $100,000 Arizona Commerce Authority Rural Economic Development Grant will assist Joy Cone in expanding its operations, a project that could cost as much as $1.2 million.

When the expansion is complete and Joy Cone has a second mixing room, production could increase by 50 percent. The current batter room is used to create the classic cake-style ice cream cones; the addition will allow for making waffle and sugar cones. Having a second mixer also will keep operations running smoothly by allowing repair or down time for one of the machines.

Joy Cone is the world’s largest manufacturer of ice cream cones, with a history dating back to 1918 and operations in Hermitage, Pa., as well as Arizona.

Flagstaff Plant Manager Joe Pozar Jr. is looking forward to increasing capacity. “Basically, if you want to continue to be successful, you’ve got to expand,” said Pozar. “You can’t stay with the status quo or your competitors catch up and move past you. And our strategy has always been to stay on top, do things better and have quality.” Pozar’s father also works at the Flagstaff plant, and his grandfather was in the ice cream cone business as well.

Pozar’s pride in Joy Cone is evident during a tour through the impressive Flagstaff plant. A byproduct of the efficient process is the aroma of sweet cones baking, which fills the 250,000-square-foot facility. Attention to a quality product has helped the company during the recession and recovery. “Each of the past three years has been better than the last,” said Pozar. With the upcoming expansion, five additional jobs will be added to the staff of 125 employees.

Supporting Joy Cone and other Flagstaff businesses is John Saltonstall, the city’s business retention and expansion manager. “The criterion for this particular grant was job creation in basic sector business manufacturing.” Saltonstall calls Joy Cone a good community partner because the company’s pay scale is above the county median wage and they offer health care for their full-time employees.

“My goal is to work with businesses and help them stay here and grow here. Because people need to work,” explained Saltonstall. “Many people come for the quality of life, the skiing, climbing, hunting, biking, fishing, any number of things. But if people can’t find a job, that’s a problem.” Saltonstall and Economic Development Manager Sean Aherns work for the City of Flagstaff’s Community Investment Section. The department focuses on improving the region’s economy through retention, expansion and attraction of jobs to the area.

“Economic development for municipalities, especially rural municipalities like Flagstaff, is extremely important in this day and age,” Aherns said. “In the global economy that we all live in, and how virtual a lot of jobs are now, you really have to protect, retain and recruit new businesses to come into your market.”

When it comes to attracting companies to relocate, Flagstaff may not offer many financial incentives, but there are perks, says Aherns. “We have to champion not only the quality of life but the other things that are available here, like our educated work force, the availability of land and some of the other key sectors like bio technology. With W.L. Gore here, we are 14 times more sophisticated in biomedical manufacturing than the nation. Those are great numbers if you want to find or recruit talent,” Aherns said.

The economic development team embraces the idea of economic gardening, a strategy based on supporting local entrepreneurs. “We really have to protect and foster and organically grow those businesses that are here, whether it’s Joy Cone or someone coming out of the incubator [Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology] or someone coming from California that wants to be in Arizona,” added Aherns.

The economic development challenge is a big job for a small team, but Saltonstall says there are many community partners. When a company is considering relocation to Flagstaff, a team is put together that can include NAU, developers, the realty community and others.

Saltonstall spends most of his time supporting established businesses and bridging any gaps between the businesses community and City Hall. And in the case of Joy Cone, among others, the relationship is strengthening the city’s economic future. FBN

 

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SIDEBAR  

 

This is the third consecutive year that the city has secured grant funding for local business expansions.

In 2011, the City of Flagstaff obtained $80,000 for a T-Gen North expansion with $160,000 matched dollars, resulting in 12 to 15 new jobs.

  • In 2012, the City of Flagstaff obtained $100,000 for a Machine Solutions expansion with $812,000 matched dollars resulting in five new hires in 2012 while anticipating an additional 10 to 20 new hires in the next three years.
  • This year, the City of Flagstaff obtained $100,000 for a Joy Cone Company expansion with $900,000 matched dollars resulting in five new hires.
  • Total grant funding for local business expansion from 2011 to present – $280,000.
  • Total matched private investment dollars from 2011 to present: $1.8 million.
  • Grand total investment from the three projects: $2.15 million
  • Total number of related new jobs: Approximately 35

Each award is a great success for the individual Flagstaff businesses and for the local and regional economy. FBN

 

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